Return to the Butterfly Garden Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Best type of Willow for zone 9?

Posted by tom123 z9 Fl. ( on
Thu, Jun 27, 13 at 12:15

I was very interested in the posting by Sherry regarding her Viceroy and Red Spotted Purple butterflies. I have not had much success with either of these butterflies. I do have a large black cherry tree and a fairly large willow, but I'm not sure what type of willow it is.

I looked for the Salix nigra 'Webb' Compact Willow that Sherry mentioned and it was listed as good from zones 4-9. That means it might do alright where I am, but perhaps not. Does anyone know of willows that do better in zones 8-10 or so that might attract these butterflies?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Best type of Willow for zone 9?

I don't know the answer for sure, Tom, but, since there haven't been any Florida posters on this forum in a while, I'll try to help.

In my book Florida Butterfly Gardening by Minno and Minno,
they list three hosts for viceroys, first, Salix caroliniana, then S. nigra, and S. babylonica. Their picture of the host plant for viceroys shows a group of S. carolinianas, so you get the impression that's prime in Florida. You'll have a hard time finding any of it to buy, even through mail-order, native plant nurseries. I got some cuttings years ago from a man in South Carolina - it grows there, too - and rooted them successfully. Unfortunately, they didn't grow well here (the soil here is heavy, not sandy, like Florida) and I only got a few eggs on them. Since they appear to be common in Florida, your local viceroys might like them, as a matter of fact, central and south Florida viceroys are different (darker) from the rest of the country. Maybe S. caroliniana and the darker, south Florida form/Basilarchia archippus floridensis is tied in with S. caroliniana. If I were you, I'd try to find some growing roadside and take cuttings. This type willow doesn't get big, and it can be distinguished from S. nigra by the silvery white undersides of the leaves.

I couldn't make sleeves like I wanted from mesh material, so I put my potted Webb willow underneath a guy wire in my garden (goes to my husband's ham radio antenna tower), draped mesh material over it and secured the sides with paper clips and clothes pins. I know it's strange looking, but it should keep wasps out -

 photo WebbWillow_zpsfb205550.jpg

I'm sure a Webb willow would do fine in Florida if you can't find any S. caroliniana, but you can have fun traveling back roads looking for plants!


RE: Best type of Willow for zone 9?

Quite a contraption there, Sherry. It should be effective though. Clear evidence of how dedicated you are to raising butterflies.

I looked up the S. caroliniana and it looks like it requires a swampy area. I live on a sand hill in Central Florida. I can get a lot of things to grow here, but this looks like a real challenge. Your little tree looks very healthy. Is it in the ground?

I'm going to do more research about these willows.

RE: Best type of Willow for zone 9?

The tree in the picture is in a large container, Tom, but I have another one planted in the ground - the eggs are all on the one in the container.

All willows occur naturally in wet areas, like besides streams, creeks, rivers, in swamps, etc. I don't know of any willow you'll be able to grow on a sand hill without watering a lot, even then, you'd need to plant it in a depression.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Butterfly Garden Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here